Campus Eats: La Verdad
Iron Chef’s cuisine is within reach at Lansdowne taqueria
I’ve wanted to sample the cuisine of Boston celeb chef Ken Oringer for a long time. The recent Iron Chef winner is the culinary mastermind behind lauded local restaurants Clio, an Asian fusion establishment, Uni, an innovative sashimi bar, and KO Prime, an upscale steakhouse. Unfortunately, my wallet lacks the same powers of expansion as my stomach, so my forays into Oringer’s cuisine had previously been confined to drooling over menus I found posted on his restaurants’ Web sites.
When a friend told me about La Verdad, Oringer’s authentic Mexican taqueria that opened last year on Lansdowne Street, I took my usual approach: straight to the online menu. To my surprise, most of the items were well within the $10 range.
I headed over to Fenway with my uncle and fellow foodie in tow. The space is on the kitschy side, decorated with Mexican wrestling masks and strings of party lights. We started with the La Verdad margaritas and an order of guacamole, which the menu said would be made tableside. The margaritas, made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and white tequila, were refreshing without being too sweet. And the guacamole, anchored with fried flour tortilla chips sprinkled with chopped scallions, definitely tasted homemade and was well-complemented by the free salsa fresca, tomatillo-based salsa verde, and ultra-spicy pickled vegetables, which provided added heat and flavor. Our hopes of watching our server make the guacamole were dashed, though — the heaping portion arrived already made and plated.
Naturally, we were eager to move on to the tacos, which come in nine varieties, from standard classics like carne asada to more unusual options like beef tongue and pork confit.
I opted for the traditional pork carnitas taco while my uncle went for the fried-fish pescado taco. The petite tacos, served in threes on soft white tortillas surrounding a small mound of refried beans and Yucatan-style slaw, could have been presented better — but aesthetics aside, they tasted fantastic. Carnitas are often overly greasy, but this one, filled with tender shreds of pork, was just right. Even better? The pescado taco, featuring perfectly crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside chunks of fresh fish smothered in creamy pureed avocado and smoky chipotle mayonnaise. It was by far the best dish of the evening.
Be kind to yourself and skip dessert. We learned this the hard way after forging our way through an order of churros served with dulce de leche and Mexican chocolate — imagine a doughnut dipped in caramel and hot chocolate sauce. The rich dish left us clutching our obscenely full stomachs.
La Verdad, which means “the truth” in Spanish, was a great introduction to Oringer’s cuisine: we got well-executed standards for a reasonable price. I thought his restaurants would be like a pair of Jimmy Choos in the window of Neiman Marcus: fun to ogle, but too much for my meager cash flow. Now I can say that La Verdad warrants a repeat visit. And that’s no lie.
Leah Mennies can be reached at email@example.com Comments